Interview with Mary Power:promoting regional cooperation and co-building "Belt and Road"

08-12-2017Source:China Meteorological News Press

In recent years, China's meteorological service has made rapid progress and become a proactive participator and contributor to global meteorological development. In May, 2017, China Meteorological Administration (CMA) and World Meteorological Organization (WMO) signed Letter of Intent between the WMO and the CMA to Promote Regional Meteorological Cooperation and Co-build the Belt and Road, injecting new dynamism into regional cooperation. The reporter from China Meteorological News Press interviewed Ms. Mary Power, Director of Development and Regional Activities Department of WMO on how to advance regional meteorological exchanges and cooperation and co-build "Belt and Road".

Interviewee: Mary Power, Director of Development and Regional Activities Department, WMO

Reporter:Liu Shuqiao, China Meteorological News Press

Reporter: How do you see the high commonalities between WMO and CMA in promoting “Belt and Road” Initiative and regional meteorological cooperation?

Mary Power:WMO, as a global UN agency, with 191 member states and territories, has direct access to national meteorological services. With programs like “Belt and Road” Initiative and Nanning Initiative , we can facilitate dialogue between CMA and those countries as required. WMO regularly convenes these countries around different topics. Actually, we call these region RA-II and just had a major meeting earlier this year. And we just started the pilot project of GMAS. This is our strong position in coordination and facilitation, bringing countries together. For example, we have bilateral cooperation programs with China. And it is also important for us to reflect in the wider picture of WMO cooperation initiatives. The fact that country-to-country development systems are provided, focused particularly on meteorological services, which is quite advantageous in that respect.

Reporter: You mentioned that WMO can lend more assistance in facilitating “Belt and Road” Initiative rather than engaging in all implementation steps. It contained areas like personnel training, technical communication and so on. Can you further elaborate on this facilitative role?

Mary Power:We have a very strong education and training program. We have many training centers and training centers here in China are part of our regional training network. We have a strong process of assessing the identification of candidates, sorting of candidates, and processing applications for participation and training programs, which ensures that people who need the training get into the program and take what they have learned into their jobs. We fit the persons for different trainings. WMO has put in place these kinds of educational, training, and scholarship programs for some fifty years. This is a really strong program. We link those centers together at times, sharing experience and curriculums and fill in the gaps of training as well.

Reporter: WMO is a science-based and oriented organization. How does this kind of distinctive role stimulate regional cooperation and help highly vulnerable countries address extreme events and combat climate change?

Mary Power:Frankly speaking, we have a unique advantage in this regard. We have 191 members. They are all integral components of WMO system. We always convene people around scientific topics, like some technical people. We can foster cooperation between countries, people and hydro-meteorological services. And it is quite critical because what we do is sometime beyond borders, like weather, climate and water issues that need cross-border cooperation, particularly in relation to many extreme weather events like flooding. Actually, they can sometimes affect several countries at once. So it is very important to exchange data, expertise and technical knowledge across boundaries or on regional basis. For the most part, we manage to do.

As for China and ASEAN countries, there are some extreme weather events like storm, which can affect several countries at the same time. Flooding is also one of the extreme events. Cooperation is critical and it also needs to transfer expertise and knowledge, especially for small island countries. There are some countries that do not have access to relevant services and expertise. So it is imperative to exchange knowledge and deepen cooperation.

From my perspective, forums like China-ASEAN Meteorological Disaster Prevention Workshop should be maintained and held on a regular basis which countries can join. CMA is establishing this kind of platform to exchange technology and expertise, which will share many experiences with other countries.

Reporter: this year you stated that there was not enough focus on the hydrology services by meteorological services. Are there any specific projects or initiatives for integrating meteorological and hydrological services?

Mary Power:In many countries, meteorological services and hydrological services are separate. You get the warning for the severe weather, but the services for the flood management or river management is also needed in following. So it is rather critical that we bring these together. WMO normally convene meteorological services together. But some meteorological services do not have the functions of hydrological services. Actually, WMO encourages governments to realize the significance of bringing the two together and have a well-organized internal structure as to this connection.

Now we are working on early warning systems and extreme events warning systems like GMAS. Our department has WMO regional offices around the world. We are much connected into almost each region to the individual member through our offices. Regional offices are working with some regional workers on pilot projects.

Actually, we have an annual event to convene different meteorological services and share their activities progress. We will see if there is any room for cooperation or other joint initiatives. We have some projects with ECMWF, KMA, and so on. We do some coordination work in that respect and facilitate some of the projects. There will be a new early warning system in Southeast Asia. And we just started a new one in Pacific small island countries. We have a global initiative called CREWS.(Dec.8)

Editor:Zhang Yong